The Korea Herald


Human rights commission urges Korea to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : May 17, 2024 - 15:31

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South Korea’s human rights commission on Friday called for Koreans and the government to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTQ rights.

Song Doo-hwan, chair of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, issued a statement Friday to mark the 2024 International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia.

Celebrated annually on May 17, the day marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

“Discrimination and hate undermine the dignity of the minorities targeted. It causes them to live with intimidation, fear, and frustration, leading to self-deprecation and self-denial,” said Song.

According to a 2020 survey by the NHRCK, 81.4 percent, or 480 of the 590 LGBTQ respondents have been diagnosed with or treated for depression or panic disorder in the past year.

The UN Human Rights Committee recommended to the Korean government to prohibit a broad range of discrimination against sexual minorities in 2015, and the Korean government voted for the adoption of the resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the UN Human Rights Council on 17 June 2011.

“However, the government has never provided a clear answer to this recommendation made by the UN Human Rights Committee, and the 4th National Action Plans for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (2023-2027) does not contain any policy to promote the human rights of sexual minorities,” Song stressed.

Also, Song noted, “Some local councils, including the Council of South Chungcheong Province and the Seoul Metropolitan Council, have abolished a human rights decree in recent years because it includes a provision on prohibition of discrimination against sexual minorities. This trend is worrying.”

In 2017, some religious groups requested for abolition of the human rights decree in South Chungcheong Province and members of the provincial council proposed a draft to repeal the Human Rights Decree in South Chungcheong Province on Jan. 16, 2017.

The council, despite NHRCK’s statement opposing the repeal, approved the proposal on Feb. 2, 2017.

But Song also stressed that “The society also gave me hope that it is slowly chipping away at the discrimination and hatred of LGBT people,” referring to a recent court ruling that has declared it unlawful for the first time to require gender-affirmation surgery as a prerequisite for legally changing one's gender.

In the ruling made last month, judges at the Yeongdong branch of the Cheongju District Court recently granted permission to five people who have not undergone gender reassignment surgeries to change their legal gender from male to female on their family registers.

“Discrimination and hatred must no longer be tolerated in our society. We reaffirm that it is the non-negotiable responsibility of all of us to defend the dignity and worth of human beings and uphold the fundamental values of democracy, which are respect for diversity and human rights. The NHRCK will continue to work to ensure the human rights of LGBTQ people.”